Mr Rock ‘n’ Rolla
Okay, I’m in a Shammi Kapoor mood again this morning. All this Oscar blah has saturated me. I always go in the opposite direction when things begin to get too much in my face. So out came my Teesri Manzil DVD and on came the film. Well, I didn’t watch the entire film, just some scenes, all the songs and that’s it.
Full of life
I am always amazed at the mellifluousness with which Shammi Kapoor conducted himself on screen. His comic timing, his emotional raptures, his body language, all very honest and irreverent. But most of all it’s the music which drove him, gave him his vigour, his energy.
I am going to pull out some of my favorite Shammi Kapoor songs in the hope that you guys give them a spin as well.
The first time I saw him was on one of those Doordarshan Sundays, the evening film. It was one of Shammi’s early black and white ones, Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), the film that made him an overnight star and also marked the directing debut of the great Nasir Hussain. The title song, which had music by OP Nayyar was one of my earliest memories of Shammi Kapoor.
Then came Junglee, a 1961 film that gave the Indian youth of its time and still, to this day, its anthem –– the ‘Yaaaahoooo!!!’ battlecry –– that caused all young ladies to swoon. Snow was never so much fun, and singer Mohammed Rafi was at his playful best. And we all fell in love with Saira Banu.
Then came the glorious Teesri Manzil, 1966, the explosion of rock ‘n’ roll in hindi cinema. Every song a classic, my favorite remains, of course, O Haseena Zulfonwaali.. although an uncelebrated gem is, Dekihye saahibon. There is also some great guitar playing in Aaja aaja, Chuck Berry would be proud.
Some of my other favorites are songs like Dil deke dekho (1958) from the film of the same name. Yeh chand sa roshan chehra from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), which, even though its shot on the backdrop of the house boats in Dal lake, is an absolute rock ‘n’ roll song.
Another slammer of a rock ‘n’ roll song is Badan pe sitare from Prince (1969). Mumtaz in a glittering saree is rocked by Shammi Kapoor at a party setting. Breathless!!
Baar baar dekho, the swing-jazz song from Chinatown (1962), is Shammi Kapoor at his suave best. Looking very much like a young Errol Flynn, he charms his way into the hearts of his audience in the film as well as us swooning viewers.
Most of these songs are ones we have heard tons of times, yet they still remain as fresh today, and that’s because they were created for a time more honest and simple, but most importantly, they were created for a gentleman as eternally young and alive as one Mr Shammi Kapoor… if I may say so.